India has a huge market for refurbished smartphones that could value at US$10b by 2026

India has a huge market for refurbished smartphones that could value at US$10b by 2026. (Photo by Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP)

India has a huge market for refurbished smartphones that could value at US$10b by 2026

  • India is seeing a new breed of tech-enabled startups like Cashify, HyperXchange and Flipkart-owned Yaantra, among others, fuelling the growth of refurbished smartphones.
  • Report indicated that the global refurbished smartphone market grew 15% YoY in 2021 with LATAM and India markets registering the highest growth.

In 2021, according to Gartner Inc, global smartphone sales grew 6%, led by South Korea’s Samsung followed by US-based Apple. Interestingly, latest reports show that the used smartphone market recorded a more impressive year-on-year (YoY) growth of 15%. Counterpoint Research’s Global Refurbished Smartphone Tracker highlighted that the global market for refurbished smartphones experienced both a surge in demand as well as supply in 2021.

The report, released last month, highlighted that new flagship smartphone prices remained at the higher end, leading to a larger share of consumers considering refurbished smartphones from popular brands like Apple and Samsung. Counterpoint also noted that refurbished players have matured since 2018 and have been scaling up for more volumes. 

Apple maintained its position as the secondary smartphone market leader, followed by Samsung. “Apple led with more than 40% share in the global market. Samsung was a distant second but growing in volume,” the research report shows. Counterpoint noted that developing markets like China, India, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa are seeing a significant increase in volumes among refurbished players.

Senior Analyst Glen Cardoza highlighted that “These markets will grow more as they have many unorganized businesses and a large rural demographic yet to be captured. ASPs (average selling prices) of refurbished smartphones increased marginally as 4G devices still retained value.” He also noted that trade-ins are the fastest-growing source for such refurbished smartphones, the volume of which grew more than 10% globally in 2021. 

India leading the market with the most refurbished smartphones sold

India, alongside Latin America are leading with the highest growth rates when it comes to pre-owned smartphones, at 29% and 25% respectively. Counterpoint highlighted that even the US, China and Europe regions have shown a strong growth in terms of volumes since 2020. 

“The India and LATAM markets saw the highest growth rates in 2021 and also have the highest future potential growth over the next few years. There were supply shortages in the secondary market in 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdowns and other supply chain disruptions. But the market roared back in 2021,” Research Director Jeff Fieldhack said. He even noted that there are large consumer appetites for flagships and the latest flagships have the highest point-of-sale prices in India and LATAM.

“The secondary market offers consumers the ability to access these devices at ASPs 60% lower than new versions. The improved durability and high quality of flagships make them very appealing in the secondary market,” Fieldhack added. In a separate report by Bengaluru-based market research firm Redseer, the overall used electronics market in India is likely to grow at a 16% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and will be worth US$11 billion by 2026. 

“The growing popularity of e-commerce platforms for used and refurbished smartphones is driving the market demand,” Redseer’s Siddharth Surana noted. Fuelling the growth in India are startups and players like Cashify, HyperXchange and Flipkart-owned Yaantra (owned by Flipkart).